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Closure Of Moscow's Largest Market Leaves Migrants Scrambling

A sign reading "Market Closed” on the fence to the Cherkizovsky market in Moscow
A sign reading "Market Closed” on the fence to the Cherkizovsky market in Moscow
MOSCOW -- Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has said that the Cherkizovsky outdoor market is likely to be permanently closed, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

He added that those who are unable to find another workplace -- "the Chinese, Vietnamese, and others, must leave Moscow."

Luzhkov's comments came the same day that some 200 shopkeepers and traders gathered outside the office of President Dmitry Medvedev and demanded he help reopen the market -- the largest such market in Moscow -- which provided many thousands of labor migrants with unskilled jobs.

Moscow-based Uzbek human rights activist Bahrom Hamroyev said that some trade unions tried to arrange the serving of hot food to the market workers who have been idled since the market was closed last week for inspections, but that local authorities did not permit it.

Hundreds of jobless Central Asian migrants have since poured into other markets in Moscow while authorities have used strong measures to keep them out.

One Uzbek migrant worker told RFE/RL that his brother went to another market to search for work and he found himself with 500 to 700 others, all seeking jobs.

He said that police arrested everyone and held them in detention for days.

After copies of their passports were made, they were each fined 2,000 rubles (about $70) and ordered to leave Russia.

This month the Russian State Duma adopted an agreement to protect the rights of Uzbek labor migrants.